Essential Skills Preschoolers Need to Know Before Kindergarten This Autumn

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Inside: What Preschoolers Need to Know Before Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a big transition for preschoolers. They have to learn what it means to be away from home, academic skills, and what the expectations are. However, there is one small thing that can make all of this easier: preparing before kindergarten starts.

Let's make sure you know what your child needs to know before starting school to be successful in their new environment.

Your preschooler is about to enter the next stage of their education. They will be entering Kindergarten and starting a new school year. It's time for them to learn some important skills that they can use in their new school setting and beyond. Studies have shown that most parents want more involvement in the transition to kindergarten, and want information including academic expectations. I did some research and found what you should focus on to ensure success for your child. (source)

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Here are 10 things your child needs to know before they begin Kindergarten this year:

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Some of the links below are affiliate links. That means I may make a commission if you click and buy. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information.

Learn the Alphabet Before Kindergarten

The first skill your preschooler needs is to recognize each letter by name. This is a skill that they will continue to use throughout their life, and is a building block to learning to read later this year.

The Alphabet Song: “A, B, C” does an excellent job of teaching kids the names of all the letters. When you sing it with your child, they'll be able to recite the alphabet by themselves in no time. In our house we sing to children before bedtime, but also when we are waiting for something, like waiting our turn for a toy. Another way to sing the alphabet more is while washing hands to ensure you're washing hands for long enough.

Alphabet recognition can also be done through games and puzzles, here are a few we have gotten off Amazon, click the picture of the one you like, and you can check the price over on Amazon.

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Alphabet transformer toys! My four year old's very favorite learning tool, we sit and talk about letters for hours when we have these out. Check them out on Amazon, here.

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LeapFrog's Fridge Phonics is a fridge toy, and it's a great way to learn about letters. Children can take letters and place them into the schoolbus to hear the name and talk about the sounds they make at the beginning of words. this one is great to keep on the fridge and talk about letters and sounds while you're cooking. Check it out on Amazon, here.

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Learning Resources Alphapops are great for matching upper and lowercase letters, and really driving home that skill. They're perfect for little fingers, easy to connect and separate, and one of our favorites! Check it out on Amazon, by clicking here.

I love the books where they can trace their letters, we often sit down and trace it and say the sound it says. It's important they recognize both capital and lowercase letters.

Letter puzzles, which are seasonal, are a great way to recognize letters and have a picture behind them. Students will pair the capital letters with their lowercase letters. Drawing the letters is also a great skill to work on . . . we laminate everything, and they trace the letters as well.

We change these out often, to keep things fresh. Some days my child is only interested in working with printables with dinosaurs on them, and I let it lead where our lessons go.

Here are tracing and alphabet worksheets you can find in my shop, click one of the blue links below to see!

I Can Trace Worksheets
Watermelon Letter Matching Puzzles
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How to Count and Number Recognition

Counting is a skill that can be learned in many ways. It can be taught through song, games, or repetition. My favorite way is repetition.

The easiest way to teach counting is by using objects of all shapes and sizes such as blocks, buttons, clothespins or anything else you might find around the house. Literally everything around your house. If you need to clean up toys, have them count the dinosaur toys. Count the blocks as you build with them.

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Rainbow Counting Bears! We love these for counting, comparing and even color sorting. They're a MUST for every preschooler. Check them out on Amazon, here.

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I love these puzzles, they call them “self correcting” because if the puzzle doesn't match up then it's not the right number pair. Check it out on Amazon, here.

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Zingo is an amazing game for preschoolers. Once you buy one and get the general idea, it's easy to play any of them, and learn a host of different subjects! Check it out on Amazon, by clicking here.

Have your child count out each item one at a time on their own until they get stuck. This will help them develop an understanding for how numbers work within sets of items. We do an incredible amount of counting, but it's also important to look at and understand the numbers as well.

It's important to recognize the numbers, I create a lot of printables for number recognition for this exact reason.

My printable sets have a representation of a number, like “four”, and then you'll see four of the object, and the child can then trace the number, as well as write it underneath. The number is represented in a ten frame, which is a quick and easy way for children to recognize numbers in relation to ten. This is AMAZINGLY helpful when they're working on combining numbers to reach ten. These printables are great to work with manipulatives.

I like having a page where they can see the quantity–there are four items– and they can also see the actual number, as well as the ten frame. Using all of these together helps children really solidify number recognition in their brain.

Another fun way to play with numbers is to add in these chunky puzzle pieces. When we are talking about the number four, my child will grab the number 4 from this pile of numbers.

I Can Trace Worksheets
Ocean Counting Mats for Preschool Learning
Ocean Clip Cards

Preschoolers Need to Know Letter Sounds

At this point, if your child knows the letters by name, it's time to introduce them to letter sounds. One of the skills preschoolers need to know before kindergarten is letter sounds.

I teach my children that letters are like animals, they have a name, but also make a sound. When you see a cat and you know the name is “cat” but the sound is “meow”. This gives my children another way to think about the alphabet, because it can get a little confusing when you talk about letters and sounds. Why does “see” say “kuh”?

Letters are difficult!

To learn the sounds we practice a LOT. A great way to practice ALL learning for school is reading to your child. If you get nothing else from reading this, hear this: Read to your child at least once a day to help them become successful.

The same products we used to learn the names of all the letters are great once again to learn the sounds of all of the letters. It's important here to talk about how the letter name is NOT the same as the letter sound, and to help them understand that we talk about them in terms like I mentioned above.

Like a dog says “woof”, a letter has a name and a sound too.

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Alphabet transformer toys! My four year old's very favorite learning tool, we sit and talk about letters for hours when we have these out! Check them out on Amazon, here.

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LeapFrog's Alphabet learning sounds fridge toy, this one is great to keep on the fridge and talk about letters and sounds while you're cooking. Check it out on Amazon, here.

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Learning Resources Alphapops are great for matching upper and lowercase letters, and really driving home that skill. They're perfect for little fingers, easy to connect and separate, and one of our favorites! Check it out on Amazon, by clicking here.

These are the beginning steps towards actually reading short words.

Read Simple Words 

Once we have a firm grasp on those letter sounds, we can begin reading simple words. Sometimes it's easy peasy to read words, other times they're “popcorn” words, that you will just need to memorize.

When reading short books, sound out a word, show the child what sounds it is made of and then have them practice sounding it out.

This method is great with Bob Books, because they help your child learn to read with quick and easy books, with short words. After working on it for a short time, your child will be able to read a whole book all by themselves! This gives them a lot of confidence, and encourages them to keep reading.

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Here are those Bob Books I was telling you about. A real game changer in my house, this set of books gave my daughter a lot of confidence when she first began reading. She could read an entire book all by herself. Check them out on Amazon, here.

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This phonics storybook is a cute little storybook and a workbook. Each story focuses on a word family, and at the end your child can practice writing words they found in the stories. Check it out on Amazon, here.

I would suggest though to take it slow with teaching them how to read, it's super easy to get frustrated while reading, and that takes all the fun out of it. Try to take some time to work on phonics once a day, then focus on reading TO your child to prevent them to get too fatigued from reading.

It's much more beneficial for you to read to your child at this young age. This means they can enjoy the story, and the experience of reading. We want them to grow up and LOVE reading.

Learn Shapes Before Kindergarten

An important skill for preschoolers to learn before kindergarten is recognizing shapes. It's an easier task to learn because shapes are everywhere, and learning tools are plenty in this field.

I have several cute printables that will help you out here, including this crab freebie, click here to check out the post where you can grab it here.

Another way we like to learn about shapes is using different objects, like cookie cutters on play doh, or look at other real objects that have the shape. Like the top of your cup is a circle.

Practice Writing Skills with Preschoolers

Kids are going to do a lot of writing in kindergarten. I like to make sure that they get really comfortable with holding writing utencils before they go.

They love learning to write their own name, because they hear it every day and it's such a common sound to their brains. Their first name is the perfect place to start learning to write. It's normal and adorable for them to write letters backwards or upside down. Practice your patience. They're trying their best!

I have a lot of tracing copywork available for those prewriting and writing skills we want to teach our littles before they start kindergarten.

An important first step is pencil grip. This was super easy with my first two, they eagerly and happily wrote all day. My third is left handed, and it's very common for lefties to have issues with their hands while writing. We spend a lot of time correcting his form, this way his hands and wrists don't get tired. It's common for left handed writers to wrap their little hand around the letters they are writing. It makes it easier for them tosee what they've written, and to avoid erasing or smudging.

Progress is better than perfection. Don't worry about how perfect their little “a” looks, just make sure they know it's a safe place for them to try.

Here is a small selection of my products, they're in order from most basic to most advanced for the preschool crew.

Cover Page Tracing Worksheets |

Tracing worksheets to practice fine motor skills with! There are 15 pages in this bundle, you can print as many times as you'd like. Practice by laminating and using markers, or use scissors to cut them out. Check them out on my shop, here.

Alphabet Practice Preschoolers Need to Know Before Kindergarten |

These sheets are great for practicing each letter of the alphabet. If you need practice writing, but you're past the tracing cards, these are a little more advanced, but still provide your preschooler with plenty of practice while learning the alphabet. Check it out in my shop, here.

I can trace shop size |

This set is slightly more advanced still. With this set your child will be able to trace the whole alphabet, days of the week, months of the year, number words, and more! Check it out on my shop, by clicking here.

Learning to write is my very favorite part of preschool education. I love seeing the cute little ways they decide they want letters to look. My daughter used to always make a swirly J for the first letter of her name, and I loved it.

Learn Colors with Your Preschooler Before Kindergarten

Learning colors is a fun and easy thing to do with preschoolers. Because colors are everywhere!

Naming the colors is as easy as playing I-spy with my little eye with your child, using printables, or creating your own fun activities.

A few activities I like to work on with my child to learn colors:

Match the colors printable, this printable has a box you can put different colored objects in. Sometimes we even take pens, markers, and crayons, and we sort them by color on these sheets. There are also real life pictures you can sort, as well as colorful images like seashells.

You can also use construction paper on the floor. Find red things and put them on this paper.

We talk about the food we are eating. What color are your eggs?

Sorting socks. This one is 100% for my sanity, and less about teaching them about colors. If they separate all the socks by colors, they can quickly and easily match them (so I don't have to!).

Bigger or Smaller

This is exactly what it sounds like. Bigger object vs. smaller object. It's very easy when you think of it like that. This is a prerequisite to greater than and less than.

You can use anything to teach your kids this. Objects around the house, cups of water, piles of blocks, etc.

The next step is more or less. You can take any blocks or manipulatives and ask which one is more.

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These sheets are great for practicing sorting from big to little. Check it out in my shop, here.

Preschoolers Should Know about Feelings Before Kindergarten

I feel very strongly about kids knowing about feelings at a young age. Kids need to know that feelings are normal, and it's okay to feel angry, or sad, as well as healthy ways to cope with those feelings.

Emotions and feelings without the words to name them can lead to unhealthy coping. A child who feels unheard can get desperate quickly, and it can result in hitting or other destructive coping mechanisms.

This is why it's important to be able to name those feelings, and say “I am feeling mad”

A lot of adults can't even fully understand their feelings, talk early and often about how you feel. I have had great success with this feelings spinner, which gives my preschooler the tools to name those feelings and express them in a healthy way before he might have the right words.

When feelings have a name, it helps manage those feelings later on in life, and can actually lead to more effective coping mechanisms.

A lot of times we aren't sure WHY our child is angry, and it's usually not what we think. It's important they know the words to say “I am feeling so mad!” and then we can talk out WHY they are feeling mad. It's okay when we are learning to give them the words to articulate these feelings.

Feelings Chatterbox |

Feelings Chatterbox! We love this in our house, on one hand because I get to show off my mad origami skills, on the other hand they get to talk about feelings. The inside has different prompts to talk about how they feel as well as how they think someone else might feel in certain scenarios. Check them out on my shop, here.

Feelings Spinner |

This feelings spinner is another great way to talk about feelings. My preschooler used it to show me how he was feeling throughout the day, and we talked about what he could do to try to change feeling “mad” and get it to “calm.” Check it out in my shop, here.

How to Independently Use the Bathroom

Your child's kindergarten teacher will not be able to follow your child into the bathroom. It is incredibly important that they are able to pull their pants down and back up, as well as wipe. Practice this with them at home. Set that expectation that they'll be needing to shut the bathroom door, go to the bathroom by themselves, wipe, flush the potty. All independently.

They are perfectly capable of doing this! Make a big deal when they're a big kid, and they can do all of this on their own.

Another skill they need to know is how to wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. If you haven't started learning this task, start now. Show them how to make soap bubbles, and rinse between fingers, and get all the soap off. Then of course dry their hands.

How to Open Containers Independently

This is also very important to your child's independence. If they can open their containers by themselves, your little kindergartener will have more time to eat their lunch or snack, and so will their teacher. So do all of the teachers in the world a favor and just practice starting now.

Read To Your Child Every Day

You’ve done a great job. Keep up the good work by continuing to read with your child each day, and be on the lookout for other opportunities to help them learn more about letter sounds, words they recognize in their environment, or things that are happening in their community.

It can feel overwhelming at times but there is no need to panic! I have a lot of tools here that will help you, but most importantly: Have faith in yourself and trust that you'll know what's best when it comes time for Kindergarten this fall. Your child will thank you later as they find success with these important skills throughout life. Remember – education never stops!

If you get nothing else from this article, I want you to get this: Read to your child. Read every day, as much as you can. This is the very best thing you can do for your child to ensure their academics soar.

Reach for the stars with these space books you can grab from the library or Amazon, today!

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